A Happy Tail

Among the greys and browns of our December garden are little pockets of color, life…


and many happy tails.

The roses are having their last hurrah, with a cold snap now upon us. A yellow rose symbolizes friendship. Something we have in abundance here.


People from all walks of life bonded by a common goal of saving lives and seeing dogs on their journeys home.


Pink roses represent gratitude and appreciation.


I don’t know if it shines brighter in the faces of our newly adopted dogs or their lucky humans. This is Zephyr and her new family.


Red is for love and passion.


That’s what Chris and Steve have in spades.


They devote all of their weekends and many of their nights and vacations to our dogs and mission of rescue, with a special passion for the hardest cases. With love and patience they slowly rehabilitate dogs that others might give up on.


Goldie came to Homeward Bound at the age of 18 months. She went home and came back five times – sometimes the result of her own behavior issues, and finally, because of the economy.


Last returned in 2012, she was guarded, unpredictable, and not safe enough to place up for adoption again.


Considered sanctuaried, she could stay with us forever – but for a special bond – coupled with Chris and Steve’s steadfast determination.


Since 2012, they have been building trust. Over the past year, there have been careful introductions to Chris and Steve’s other rescue dogs.


Baby steps and small victories, culminating in a very special day. Today was Goldie’s Going Home Day.


It will take care and time before she is fully integrated in to the family, but if anyone can do it – they can.


Tonight, Goldie sleeps not in a house – a home. A forever home. And that makes for one very happy tail.

(Special photo credit: Rob Kessel for many of the images here.)

Holiday Cheer

Saturday morning, there were two adoptions on the weekly board. By evening there were seven. This is all the cheer I need to make my holiday bright.

Daisy Going Home
Star Going Home

“What if Christmas, he thought, doesn’t come from a store. What if Christmas…perhaps…means a little bit more!”
~ Dr. Seuss


But, try as we might to empty the kennels before Christmas Eve, there are always new recruits.

Darbee snagged the coveted office dog spot, which makes her Judy’s (current) favorite.


This adorable little girl looks like a cross between a Golden and a Corgi with a little Basset Hound rolled in for good measure.


Yule was a stray, rescued from the shelter. Part Golden, part Great Pyrenees.


Scared and very thin, his wary face turned to smiles in Maria’s hands (which means she found a way out of gardening chores!)


The rains have turned our garden and walking paths to lakes and mud, but after three years of drought, no one is complaining. The rice field next door once again supports migrating geese and herons.


And the bees were enjoying the last of the roses and the blooming Ceanothus on a late, warm, December day.



Nature’s Yuletide decorations cannot be beat.



Good News In Buckets

Remember when I was whining about the injustice of the flooded rice fields adjacent to our water-starved garden? Well look at us now!


The area beyond the levy is the rice field. The area in front shows the overflown banks of our pond at Homeward Bound Golden Retriever Rescue.

Good News #1: It rained. Buckets and buckets. For hours on end. It rained so long and so hard I thought we might float away.


Good News #2: We did not float away. But we did have some flooding, and we’re left with pooling water everywhere. Every time our pups go out, they get covered in mud. Us too. (Candy was working on manners with new arrival, Tucker. Looks like Tucker: 1; Candy: 0 so far!)


The rain created rivers of water that swept the garden’s walk-on bark paths away.


I spent the day putting down a layer of shreds to soak up the mud and make the place passable.


Good News #3: More rain is on the way, but in more manageable doses this time. We need every drop of it to help put an end to our three-year-long drought.

December_Grey Skies_DSC_0426

Good News #4: Remember scared Missy from last week’s blog post? She went to her foster home. Given that her foster mom has already renamed her Maggie, we’re pretty sure that they will be a foster failure together. We love foster failures.


When they first met, Missy was still shy.


It didn’t last long.


She jumped in the car with no prompting and said “let’s go!” Looks like a perfect match to me!

The Seeds of Today and Yesterday


“Memory is the power to gather roses in winter.” ~ Author Unknown


Gardens don’t have memories. They die back in winter and come forth in spring to show the results of our hard work – or the havoc the birds and nature have sown.


But surely, they have souls.


Each year the garden is reincarnated; reborn. Taking on a remarkably similar, but changed version of its former self. It’s journey – a combination of planning and happenstance.


A blogger I admire – Will, of Will and Eko “Marking our Territory” fame – wrote a beautiful tribute this week to his brother’s dog, Dutch, titled “On Losing a Dog.” If you haven’t read it; you should. He captures so perfectly the grief we feel when our most accepting companions leave us. But there was one line I could not shake. He wrote: “A dog has no journey of their own, no thoughts of past or future, so they give themselves fully to us in a way no person ever could.”

Will is right that a dog’s journey is largely controlled by others, but the dogs we rescue at Homeward Bound most definitely have pasts – and memories of them. Some are very hard to let go. We have seen dogs that mourn the loss of their human or canine sibling; others that have been traumatized or mistreated. One of our newest arrivals, Missy, is clearly thinking only of her past. Surrendered for a minor transgression, she does not understand why she has gone from family dog to homeless dog, or why she was left in a place she finds so overwhelming. Shaking, tail tucked, her body language says “I’m afraid.”


As soon as she sees the vet, we will hope to have her in foster. Gorgeous, she should have no problem finding a home. We will guide her on a new journey – with a secure and loving future. And she will, no doubt, give herself fully and gratefully to a person who will make her feel safe and loved.


“All the flowers of all the tomorrows are in the seeds of today and yesterday.” ~ Chinese proverb